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A Look At The 5th Annual Rahway International Film Festival

A Look At The 5th Annual Rahway International Film Festival

(RAHWAY, NJ) -- Celebrating its 5th Anniversary, the Rahway International Film Festival has relocated to Westfield, New Jersey, taking root at the stunning James Ward Mansion.  The move comes at the heels of their ongoing transition to the new 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, Big Dreams & Silver Screens Inc. The festival will ring in its 5th season with their Opening Night Gala on Friday, September 22, 2017 and will continue through Sunday, September 24, 2017.  Showcasing films from as far as Estonia and India and as well as those from the Garden State the festival presents the work of independent artists across the globe.

It is the festival’s vision and belief that film can reach the mind and soul in ways nothing else can.  For this reason, they present films that strive to promote equality, champion the oppressed and promote open-mindedness.  Further promoting equality, all films presented will showcase the talents of both male and female filmmakers in equal ratio.

Following is the full schedule with times and descriptions:


Opening Night Gala 6:30pm - 8:00pm; Tickets: $75 - Hosted in the Atrium at The James Ward Mansion, the Gala is a red carpet affair.  Guests will be treated to an open bar with complimentary wine, beer and champagne, complimentary hors d'oeuvres and dessert (courtesy of Morano Gelato Westfield).  Guests may feel free to explore the mansion, enjoy an impromptu photo shoot, get interviewed on the red carpet and enjoy the party before moving into the evening’s film screenings. Due to high demand, tickets for the Opening Night Gala are available for ADVANCE SALE ONLY until Friday 9/22 at 1:00pm.

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Opening Night Film Presentations 8:00pm - 10:00pm - Tickets: Included with Gala Purchase

“Helping Hands” - Director | Writer: Mike Jacobson - Short Narrative  |  Runtime: 15:39 - Country of Origin: New Jersey, USA - Language: English - Genre: Comedy - Synopsis: Chris Chumsky is an aspiring filmmaker trying to make it in the film industry. Hired as a production assistant, he slowly but surely realizes that making movies isn't always as magical as they seem on screen.

“Life Hack” - Director | Writer: Sloan Copeland - Feature Narrative  |  Runtime: 1:25:00 - Country of Origin: New York, USA - Language: English - Genre: Comedy - Synopsis: White hat hacker Charlie (Derek Wilson, "Preacher") finds out that his best friend Bobby (Dylan Pinter) was caught doing a private act on video and is now being blackmailed by the infamously unidentifiable Moraler - a glorified cyber bully who many believe is the mastermind behind recent anti-establishment hacks. After struggling actress Carolyn (Jessica Copeland) gets hacked, Charlie and Jack (Mike Giese) decide to embark on a tense and amusing search for the twistedly righteous Moraler before he releases Bobby’s graphic video to social media. The suspense and wit keep you captivated and laughing with cameos from Sean Kleier ("Odd Mom Out") and Devin Ratray ("Nebrask16a," "Blue Ruin"). (Contains some sexually crude humor. Viewer discretion advised.)

Opening Night After Party 10:30pm - 12:30am - Tickets: Included with Any Purchase - Ticket holders will enjoy an after party at 16 Prospect Wine Bar & Bistro,  just steps away from the James Ward Mansion and minutes from the Westfield train station.  Music duo, The Constant will be providing acoustic performances while guests enjoy light fare and a cash bar.  This is a perfect time to network and make new connections!

Attendees must show their Opening Night ticket, day/weekend pass, or hand stamp for admission! Those with Saturday/Sunday tickets or passes must show their online ticket or receipt for admission. Selected filmmakers may pick up their V.I.P pass at the After-Party if they do not already have it.


Filmmaking Seminar 11:00am-12:00pm - Stunts on Set with the Nation's Leading Fight Choreographer” - Speaker: Rick Sordelet - Tickets: $10 - Learn how to keep your actors safe on set when it comes to film stunts. Famed fight choreographer and stunt coordinator, Rick Sordelet, shares his expertise and stories from his professional career as the nation's premier fight director.

FILM BLOCK #1: "Shorts Block” 12:30pm - 2:30pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A - Tickets: $15 - Film Lineup: "Tony & The Swordfish Tattoo" directed by Joe Kurek (NJ, USA); "Swan Lake" directed by Saeed Mayahy & Hamid Jamali (Iran); "Safety Net" directed by Andrew E. Rudd (OH, USA); "Alfred J. Hemlock" directed by Edward Lyons (Australia); "Standing Eight" directed by Brian Kazmarck (NJ, USA); "Concrete and Crashpads: Stunts in New York" directed by Stephen Koepfer & Matthew Kaplowitz (NY, USA)

Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast.  

FILM BLOCK #2: FEATURE FILM "COLUMBUS" 3:00pm - 5:00pm - Film Screening - Tickets: $15 - Preceded by Short Film: "Cup of Tea" directed by Jitendra Rai (India); Feature Film Presentation: "Columbus" - Directed by: Kogonada - Country of Origin: California, USA - Language: English / Korean - Genre: Drama - Synopsis: When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin (John Cho, "Harold & Kumar", "Star Trek" Series) finds himself stranded in Columbus, Indiana - a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey (Haley Lu Richardson, "Split", "The Edge of Seventeen"), a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their conflicted emotions: Jin's estranged relationship with his father, and Casey's reluctance to leave Columbus and her mother. "Columbus" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2017.

FILM BLOCK #3: FOREIGN FEATURE DOCUMENTARY "RETURN TO BOSNIA" 5:30pm - 7:30pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A - Tickets: $15 - Preceded by Short Films: "Whining Low" directed by Sergio Zaciu (CA, USA); "I Got You Babe" directed by Ashton Avila (CA, USA); "Addle Strife" directed by Karl Ryan Erikson (NJ, USA)

Foreign Feature Film: "Return to Bosnia" - Directed by: Wes Greene - Feature Documentary  |  Runtime: 50:00 - Country of Origin: Australia (Filmed in Bosnia / Herzegovina) - Language: English - Synopsis: Twenty-five years after fleeing a brutal civil war in Bosnia, Damir Mitric returns to uncover the pain and trauma that still divides his homeland. Now a historian living in Australia, Mitric returns to Bosnia, reuniting with family and friends, and meeting those working to rebuild a nation borne of bitter ethnic and religious divisions.

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From his childhood home in Europe’s most besieged city, to a former concentration camp and to mass graves, Mitric confronts the incomprehensible: How could your neighbours turn into killers? And how can you rebuild lives and communities devastated by violence?

Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast.

FILM BLOCK #4: FEATURE FILM "D-LOVE" 8:00pm - 10:00pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A -  Tickets: $15 - Preceded by Short Films: "Milk" directed by Winnifred Jong (Canada); "Tiny Worlds" directed by Alexa Werrlein (NJ, USA); 

Feature Film Presentation: "D-Love" - Directed by: Elena Beuca - Country of Origin: California, USA/Romania - Language: English / Romanian - Genre: Drama - Synopsis: A couple with longstanding marital issues lands at LAX after a getaway in Europe. For a few years now, Stefania (Elena Beuca, has been working a job she detests and Dan hasn't worked at all. Their palpable strain is only made worse when a Danish vagabond, asks for a ride to the busiest freeway in Los Angeles. Stefania doesn’t want to have anything to do with the wanderer, but her husband Dan, much to his wife's horror, offers to bring this total stranger to their home. 

How will this affect the couple? 

The director invites you on a 3-day journey, seen through Stefania’s eyes, to view and discover that desired change doesn’t always come in the package that we want or expect.

Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast.  


SCREENPLAY COMPETITION STAGED READINGS 11:00am - 12:00pm - Screenplay Competition Staged Readings - Tickets: Free Admission (Seats Must Be Reserved) - We will hold staged readings of the winning screenplays of this year's Screenplay Competition. The actors will consist of our Acting Monologue Competition winners.

Selected Screenplays: "The Badge, The Gun, and the Hangman’s Noose" written by Edward Santiago; "Hell to Pay: The Legend of Robert Johnson" written by Giancarlo Fusi; "The List" written by Drew Novelli & Lauren Greenspan-Novelli; "The Knight and the Slacker written by Joe Territo

FILM BLOCK #5: FEATURE DOCUMENTARY "I CAN'T... I HAVE REHEARSAL" 12:30pm - 2:30pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A - Tickets: $15 - Preceded by Short Films: "En Pointe" directed by Matthew Kaplowitz (NY, USA); "Speechless" directed by Eben Skilleter (United Kingdom); "Opal" directed by Jack Cook (NJ, USA); "Parallax Dreams" directed by John Tuohy (NJ, USA); "Filling In" directed by Bradley Hawkins (PA, USA)

Feature Documentary Presentation: "I Can't... I Have Rehearsal" - Director | Writer | Producer: Maddie Orton - Feature Documentary  |  Runtime: 59:57 - Country of Origin: New Jersey, USA - Language: English - Synopsis: For a select few, the high school musical is sacred. Every year those students come together for the Tonys of New Jersey high school musical theatre: The Rising Star Awards. But first, they have to get their shows off the ground. This is the story of six very different high schools from across New Jersey as they rehearse, perform and compete with the very same supercalifragilistic show.

​Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast.  

FILM BLOCK #6: SHORTS BLOCK 3:00pm - 5:00pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A - Tickets: $15 - Film Lineup: "Desde el Principio" directed by Miguel J. Soliman (NJ, USA); "He Said" directed by Tara Lynn Orr (CA, USA); "Swipe Right" directed by Kendall Goldberg (CA, USA); "Lilac Hair" directed by Annie Drew Casella (NJ, USA); "ToGetHer" directed by Mar de Luna (Peru); "Pyramus & Thisbe" directed by Laura Raud (Estonia); "Spot" directed by Jamie DiNicola (NY, USA); "Annie Waits" directed by Marnie Paxton-Harris (United Kingdom) (Viewer discretion advised. This film block is rated "R". Includes films containing strong subject matter, drug use, nudity, sexual content, or violence. )

Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast. 

FILM BLOCK #7: FOREIGN FEATURE FILM "TORMENTS OF LOVE (TOURMENTS D'AMOUR)" 5:30pm - 7:30pm - Film Screening + Filmmakers Q&A - ​Tickets: $15 - Preceded by Short Films: "Correlation" directed by Tyrik Washington (NY, USA); "Angeltown" directed by Nancy Liu (CA, USA); "Family Rewritten" directed by Yasmin Mistry (NY, USA)

Foreign Feature Presentation: "Torments of Love" - Directed by Jules Caroline - Country of Origin: France - Language: French - Genre: Drama - Synopsis: On an island off the coast of Guadeloupe, two sisters, Myriam and Vanessa, have planned to stay for a few days in the family house, where the sweet memory of their grandmother is still vivid. But Vanessa is not aware that a particular guest is expected for lunch and when she catches sight of their father coming, a cold and quiet man that she didn't want to see anymore, it is too late to escape the confrontation. Around the table, unsaid things, provocations and blunders will lead each individual to face their own ambiguous feelings. 

Following the films, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Crew, and Cast.

FILM BLOCK #8: FEATURE DOCUMENTARY "THE LAST LAUGH" + Woman in Film Ceremony Honoring Ferne Pearlstein 8:00pm - 10:00pm - Film Screening + Filmmaker Q&A + Woman in Film Ceremony - ​Tickets: $20 - Preceded by Short Film: "Bare" directed by Michael Cannova (NY, USA)

Feature Documentary Presentation: "The Last Laugh" - Directed by Ferne Pearlstein - Country of Origin: New York, USA - Language: English - Genre: Documentary - Synopsis: The Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy. But is it? History shows that even victims of Nazi concentration camps used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any use of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. So where is the line? If the Holocaust is taboo, what are the implications for other controversial subjects — 9/11, AIDS, racism — in a society that prizes freedom of speech? "The Last Laugh" offers fresh insights into these questions, with an intimate portrayal of Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone alongside interviews with influential comedians and thinkers ranging from Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Jeff Ross (Comedy Central Roast Battle), Larry Charles (director of Curb Your Enthusiasm and Borat), and Gilbert Gottfried, to authors Etgar Keret and Shalom Auslander, plus Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. 

Following the film, there will be a Filmmakers Q&A with the attending Directors, Cast, and Crew.

Ticket price also includes the RIFF Woman in Film Ceremony honoring Ferne Pearlstein, Director of "The Last Laugh". 

Join us afterwards at our Awards Ceremony at 10:30pm where we will be announcing and celebrating the winners of this year's Film Competition!


originally published: 09/05/2017

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